Narrative of a Voyage to the Northwest Coast of America in the years 1811, 1812, 1813, and 1814 or the First American Settlement on the Pacific eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 192 pages of information about Narrative of a Voyage to the Northwest Coast of America in the years 1811, 1812, 1813, and 1814 or the First American Settlement on the Pacific.
of the water.[AD] It needed no more to break a hole in so frail a vessel; the canoe was pierced through the bottom and filled in a trice; and despite all our efforts we could not get off the tree, which had penetrated two or three feet within her; perhaps that was our good fortune, for the opening was at least a yard long.  One of the men, who was an expert swimmer, stripped, and was about to go ashore with an axe lashed to his back, to make a raft for us, when the other canoe, which had been proceeding up the lake, and was a mile ahead, perceived our signals of distress, and came to our succor.  They carried us to land, where it was necessary to encamp forthwith, as well to dry ourselves as to mend the canoe.

[Footnote AD:  A snag of course, of the nature of which the young Canadian seems to have been ignorant.]

On the 7th, Mr. A. Stuart, whom we had left behind at Kettle falls, came up with us, and we pursued our route in company.  Toward evening we met natives, camped on the bank of the river:  they gave us a letter from which we learned that Mr. M’Donald and his party had passed there on the 4th.  The women at this camp were busy spinning the coarse wool of the mountain sheep:  they had blankets or mantles, woven or platted of the same material, with a heavy fringe all round:  I would gladly have purchased one of these, but as we were to carry all our baggage on our backs across the mountains, was forced to relinquish the idea.  Having bought of these savages some pieces of dried venison, we pursued our journey.  The country began to be ascending; the stream was very rapid; and we made that day little progress.

On the 8th we began to see snow on the shoals or sand-banks of the river:  the atmosphere grew very cold.  The banks on either side presented only high hills covered to the top with impenetrable forests.  While the canoes were working up a considerable rapid, I climbed the hills with Mr. M’Gillis, and we walked on, following the course of the river, some five or six miles.  The snow was very deep in the ravines or narrow gorges which are found between the bases of the hills.  The most common trees are the Norway pine and the cedar:  the last is here, as on the borders of the sea, of a prodigious size.

On the 9th and 10th, as we advanced but slowly, the country presented the same aspect as on the 8th.  Toward evening of the 10th, we perceived a-head of us a chain of high mountains entirely covered with snow.  The bed of the river was hardly more than sixty yards wide, and was filled with dry banks composed of coarse gravel and small pebble.

CHAPTER XXIII.

     Course of the Columbia River.—­Canoe River.—­Foot-march toward the
     Rocky Mountains.—­Passage of the Mountains.

On the 11th, that is to say, one month, day for day, after our departure from the falls, we quitted the Columbia, to enter a little stream to which Mr. Thompson had given, in 1811, the name of Canoe river, from the fact that it was on this fork that he constructed the canoes which carried him to the Pacific.

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Narrative of a Voyage to the Northwest Coast of America in the years 1811, 1812, 1813, and 1814 or the First American Settlement on the Pacific from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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